Nature and Children

Although causal studies are sparse (as opposed to correlational or qualitative), the value of children  (and adults) being in nature is hardly in dispute.  A few of which are:

  • reduced stress and greater sense of peace
  • greater physical health (less obesity / overweight, dexterity, etc.)
  • more creativity
  • improved concentration.
  • sense of wonder
  • ADHD/ADD improved response
  • less depression
  • full sensory integration

“The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.” Richard Louv

Children and Nature Network

Richard Louv, author of the now nearly infamous book “Nature Deficit Disorder,” spawned this organization and website to collect information about children and nature/being outside, as well as research studies, activities, news feeds, and a blog/newsletter.  His new book is called “The Nature Principle.

Government report on use of outdoors in various ways

Report by the government agency “America’s Great Outdoors” that details statistics on the various outdoor pursuits of Americans across all ages.

National Wildlife Federation

Benefits of children being outdoors, citing numerous studies.  The organization/website is certainly biased, yet also has some interesting info.

American Psychological Association article

Offers summary of a few studies on children and nature, including one noting that children spent 50% less time outside between 1997 and 2003.

Play Again

Documentary about children being taken out of urban environments, and out of screen time, into nature.  YouTube previewFilm’s website.

Why kids need nature

A Q&A and with Richard Louv

10 reasons children need vitamin N

As the title says. 🙂

Berkeley’s Great Good Science Center podcast

Do your kids have nature deficit disorder?

Silence — benefits of

American Psychological Association article on the value of silence/quiet — less stress and better health.  And, here’s a NYT blog on the subject as well.

Urban air quality

CNN looks at air quality and the effects it has on health.

For the love of video . . . research and media site that explores the concept and what it means to children, and society.

Alliance for Childhood

A resource list to examine more books, articles, and media on the subject

Quotes about children and nature 


Valerie Andrews, A Passion for this Earth

“As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees.”


The Audubon Nature Preschool

“Children are born naturalists. They explore the world with all of their senses, experiment in the environment, and communicate their discoveries to those around them.”


Zenobia Barlow, “Confluence of Streams”

“Children are born with a sense of wonder and an affinity for Nature.  Properly cultivated, these values can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually   into sustainable patterns of living.”


Ernest Becker

“When we understand that man is the only animal who must create meaning, who must open a wedge into neutral nature, we already understand the essence of love. Love is the problem of an animal who must find life, create a dialogue with nature in order to experience his own being.”


H. Bennett

“Take care of the land and the land will take care of you.”


Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth

“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.”


Wendell Berry

“One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener’s own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.”


Wendell Berry

“Our Children no longer learn how to read the great book of Nature from their own direct experience, or how to interact creatively with the seasonal transformations of the planet. They seldom learn where their water come from or where it goes. We no longer coordinate our human celebration with the great liturgy of the heavens.”


Antoinette Brown Blackwell

“Nature is just enough; but men and women must comprehend and accept her suggestions.”


William Blake

“To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

An eternity in an hour.”


Pearl S. Buck

“I feel no need for any other faith than my faith in the kindness of human beings. I am so absorbed in the wonder of earth and the life upon it that I cannot think of heaven and angels.”


Pearl S. Buck

“I am comforted by life’s stability, by earth’s unchangeableness. What has seemed new and frightening assumes its place in the unfolding of knowledge. It is good to know our universe. What is new is only new to us.”


Luther Burbank

A flower is an educated weed.


John Burroughs

“Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral.”


Rachel Carson

“Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species — man — acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world.”


Rachel Carson

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”


Rachel Carson

“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.”


Rachel Carson

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature ‑ the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.


Rachel Carson

“Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”


Rachel Carson

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful, is dimmed and even lost  before we reach adulthood.”


Rachel Carson, “A Sense of Wonder”

“Play, Incorporating Animistic and Magical Thinking Is Important Because It:

Fosters the healthy, creative and emotional growth of a child;

Forms the best foundation for later intellectual growth.

Provides a way in which children get to know the world and creates possibilities for different ways of responding to it.

Fosters empathy and wonder.”


“By suggestion and example, I believe children can be helped to hear the many voices about them.  Take Time to listen and talk about the voices of the earth and what they mean—the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of surf or flowing streams.”


Rachel Carson

Long version: “For the child. . . it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused – a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love – then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response . . . It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate.”


Rachel Carson

Short version: “For the child. . ., it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. . . . It is more important to pave the way for a child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts that he is not ready to assimilate.”


Rachel Carson

“If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”


Center for Families, Communities, Schools and Children’s Learning.

“Children learn best through their everyday experiences  with the people they love and trust, and when the learning is fun. And the best place for these experiences is outdoors, in the natural world.”


Chinese Proverb

“No shade. tree?  Blame not the sun but yourself.”


Alan Dyer, “A Sense of Adventure”

“Children the world over have a right to a childhood filled with beauty, joy, adventure, and companionship. They will grow toward ecological literacy if the soil they are nurtured in is rich with experience, love, and good examples.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Everything in nature contains all the power of nature. Everything is made of one hidden stuff.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Presently we pass to some other object which rounds itself into a whole as did the first; for example, a well-laid garden; and nothing seems worth doing but the laying-out of gardens.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When I go into the garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In the woods we return to reason and faith.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”


Anne Frank

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.”


Buckminster Fuller

“Now there is one outstandingly important fact regarding Spaceship Earth, and that is that no instruction book came with it.”


Thomas Fuller

“He that plants a tree loves others beside himself.”



“The sun, with all those plants revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”


Mohandas K. Gandhi

“To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.”


Jose Ortega y Gasset

“I am myself and what is around me; and if I do not save it, it shall not save me.”


Murray Gell-Mann

“Today the network of relationships linking the human race to itself and to the rest of the biosphere is so complex that all aspects affect all others to an extraordinary degree. Someone should be studying the whole system, however crudely that has to be done, because no gluing together of partial studies of a complex nonlinear system can give a good idea of the behavior of the whole.”


Genesis 1: 12

“The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which Is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.:


Diane Gordon, former kindergarten teacher

“Children are born ready to learn. During the preschool years a child’s brain  is twice as active as an adults, with trillions of connections between brain cells being made. And it is the child’s relationships and experiences during the early years that greatly influence how the brain develops.”


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“Along with milk and vegetables, kids need a steady diet of rocks and worms

Rocks need skipping.

Holes need digging.

Water needs splashing.

Bugs and frogs and slimy stuff need finding”


Deb Matthews Hensley, early childhood consultant

“As children observe, reflect, record, and share nature’s patterns and rhythms, they are participating in a process that promotes scientific and ecological awareness, problem solving, and creativity.”


Linda Hogan

There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.


Oliver Wendell Holmes

On every stem, on every leaf … and at the root of everything that grew, was a professional specialist in the shape of grub, caterpillar, aphis, or other expert, whose business it was to devour that particular part.


Thomas Jefferson

I never before knew the full value of trees. Under them I breakfast, dine, write, read and receive my company.


Helen Keller

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”


Stephen R. Kellert, School of Forestry and environmental studies, Yale University.    

The middle years – roughly six to twelve –] is a time of greatly expanded interest, curiosity and capacity for assimilating knowledge and understanding the natural world. Rapid cognitive and intellectual growth occurs, including many critical thinking skills achieved through interaction and coping in the nonhuman environment.

Intellectual development at this stage is especially facilitated by direct contact with nearby natural settings, where a world of exploration, imagination and discovery becomes increasingly evident to the child.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

The time is always ripe to do what is right


Joseph Wood Krutch

Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.


Lucy Larcom

He who plants a tree plants a hope.


Aldo Leopold

Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets. To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel.


James Russell Lowell

A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.


Margaret Mead

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.


Enos A. Mills

 The forests are the flag’s of Nature. They appeal to all and awaken inspiring universal feelings. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten. It may be that sometime an immortal pine will be the flag of a united and peaceful world.


Claude Monet

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, the source of my inspiration.


Robin Moore and Herbert H. Wong: Natural Learning:                                               

Creating Environments for Discovering Nature’s Children live an imaginary life, and creating a place where they can have fun in a very free way can motivate them and expand their horizons. “


Robin C. Moore and Herb H Wong

 “Children have a natural affinity towards nature. Dirt, water, plants, and small animals attract and hold children’s attention for hours, days, even a lifetime.”


Toni Morrison

Birth, life, and death — each took place on the hidden side of a leaf.


J. Sterling Morton

The cultivation of trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man.


J. Sterling Morton

Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.


John Muir

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.

The winds will blow their own freshness into you…

while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.


John Muir

The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.


John Muir

Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.


Blaise Pascal

The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.


Blaise Pascal

Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.


Kenneth Patton

The day I see a leaf is a marvel of a day.


Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth

What do parents owe their young that is more important than a warm and trusting connection to the Earth…?


Theodore Roosevelt

To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, and to live as a people, we must have trees.


E. Merrill Root

We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life  is miracle  and magic


George Santayana

… everything in nature is lyrical in its ideal essence, tragic in its fate, and comic in its existence.


John Steinbeck

There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp.


Rabindranath Tagore

Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.


Edwin Way Teale

Looking at life through the eyes of a Daddy long legs: “Imagine walking on legs so long you could cover a mile in fifty strides! Imagine looking to either side through eyes set not in your head but in a… hump in your back! Imagine your knees, when you walked, working a dozen feet or more above your head.”


Henry David Thoreau

Nature abhors a vacuum, and if I can only walk with sufficient carelessness I am sure to be filled.


Henry David Thoreau

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.


Henry David Thoreau

I was determined to know beans.


Henry David Thoreau

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.



I am the heat of your hearth, the shade screening you from the sun: I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle, and the shell of your coffin. I am the gift of God and the friend of Man.


Kurt Vonnegut

If people think that nature is their friend, then they sure don’t need an enemy.


Walt Whitman

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.

Walt Whitman

There was a child went forth everyday,

And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became.

And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day, Or for many years or stretching cycles of years.


Winnebago Saying

Holy Mother Earth, the trees and all nature, are witnesses of our thoughts and deeds.


William Wordsworth

Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes

While in a grove I sate reclined,

In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts

Bring sad thoughts to the mind.


To her fair works did Nature link

The human soul that through me ran;

And much it grieved my heart to think

What Man has made of Man.


Frank Lloyd Wright
Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.


Frank Lloyd Wright
The best friend on earth of man is the tree: When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources of the earth.